Title: I Cried To Dream Again
Pairing/s: bit of foreshadowing for Merlin/Arthur
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: In which Arthur is Prospero and Merlin is Ariel because I watched The Tempest yesterday and there was the 'Do you love me, Master?' line and I got flashes of it being asked in a very different situation
Word Count: 521
Author's Notes: Probably will make this into a thing because it's too fun not to!
Arthur is exhausted from the swim from the wreck and soaked through to the bone, though the sun is warm and he’s quickly drying out. He seeks the cover of the trees, knowing that the sun will rise in the sky before long and burn his skin unless he finds shade. He also knows that he will soon need fresh water, and that vegetation follows the line of the river.
He’s not far into the wood, however, when the sounds begin. Sounds of wailing, then sobbing, high and loud, then so quiet and pitiful Arthur could almost curl in on himself and join in their sorrow. But he is a soldier, trained from birth or as near after that as he could puff his chest out and face danger. So he hacks his way further into the trees, in search for the source of the cries. No enchantment will scare him away from the promise of water and with it life.
Arthur is a skilled tracker, and it isn’t long before he finds the issue of the cries. It’s a tree. Short, like a fruit tree, and covered in waxy green leaves. There’s no other explanation or interpretation; Arthur walks around it to inspect it three times. And yet it emits these halting, hitching, broken cries.
The only explanation Arthur can find is sorcery. But he is equipped to deal with that; his sword possesses the ability to destroy any enchantment it touches. He draws it, slices the tree open like he would a foe; from crown to root. It sparks around his sword, and where the metal touches wood the bark erodes back, leaving enough space for a man to step out.
Admittedly only a thin man. Arthur is only a little surprised when one stumbles out, all unnaturally blue eyes and dark ruffled hair and sharp cheekbones. He looks like no creature from this world that Arthur has ever seen, even as he makes the very human motion of shielding his eyes from the sun. It could just be the light, but Arthur swears he can see the tree through the creature, though when he trips and falls into Arthur’s arms, he has a very solid weight.
“I’m free,” the creature says, wondering, his voice cracked and strange, as if he has spent months if not longer away from all language. Arthur looks him over, inspects him for damage.
“The light,” the creature says, a little louder this time, “Oh, Gods, the light!”
He sounds in turns happy and frightened, screwing his eyes up against the sun. Arthur frowns, concerned, waiting for the creature to reveal something about his circumstances. When it doesn’t, Arthur has to speak.
“Well, hello. Can I help?”
The creature cracks open one mesmerising eye to look at Arthur. It widens, and the creature gasps sharply before he falls limp in Arthur’s arms, fainted and heavy.
Arthur hefts him up into his arms almost reluctantly.
“Another mystery already,” he mutters, acidic, “That’s sure to help me survive.”
It won’t be until much later that Arthur realises the truth of his words; and so much more.